Saturday, May 13, 2006

I am a September 11, 2001, survivor from the World Trade Center attack in New York City. Prior to that fatal day, I knew nothing about terrorism. As I ran for my life, I knew only that terrorists were trying to murder me and everyone around me, though I didn’t know why.

Since then, I have spent countless hours trying to learn about the causes of terrorism and what we can do about it, so that others do not have to experience what I did — or worse.

Recently, I attended a conference held by America’s Truth Forum on “The Underlying Roots of Terrorism: Terrorism’s Threat to World Peace and National Security.” Numerous speakers included experts on the ideology, funding and spread of terrorism, as well as possible solutions. Two speakers stood out: Brigitte Gabrielle, a survivor of terrorism, and Whalid Shoebat, a former Palestine Liberation Organization activist.

Brigitte was born in Lebanon when it was still a predominantly Christian country. It was a republic, similar to America. The country was tolerant, permitted immigration, and promoted multiculturalism. Jews, Christians and Muslims coexisted peacefully until Muslims became the majority. They entered Lebanon and tried to make it theirs instead of assimilating.

In 1975, the Muslims declared Jihad on the Christians. Brigitte’s home was bombed. She and her family lived in a bomb shelter underground for the next seven years. From age 10 to 17, she had no electricity, no bathroom and lived in total darkness. Only when she crawled out under sniper bullets to eat grass and get water, did she see the light of day. The barbaric acts of Muslims went largely unreported because they manipulated the press.

Finally, Israelis came to save those who lived near the border, including Brigitte’s family. Brigitte’s mother was taken to an Israeli hospital for bullet wounds, and the 22 days Brigitte spent there changed her life. She witnessed doctors and nurses caring for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, in the order of their need. No attention was paid to the religion or class of the patients. She realized the difference between the Arab world and the Western world was a difference in values and character. It was barbarism versus civilization; good versus evil. She saw the Truth — not a world vetted through the lenses of Arab propaganda. She was lucky she survived. She now speaks on behalf of Israel, and educates audiences on the threat of Islamist terrorism.

Whalid Shoebat is an Arab and a former PLO member. His father was Muslim, and his mother was a Protestant American. She gave birth to Whalid during a trip to the Middle East, after which she was forbidden to return. She was deemed Muslim, as was Whalid, and she lived in fear ever-after, hiding her Christian roots even from her son. Whalid was taught in school at an early age to hate Jews. Everything about his education was anti-Semitic — the poems, lessons, and prayers.

Later in life, both his father and others whose lives had been saved by Jews, maintained that Jews deserved no compassion. His father told him that the only prayer in Islam for Jews is that they should be cursed. While he was Muslim, if his daughter had married a non-Muslim, he would have killed her and thought nothing of it.

Whalid debunked the myth that the root cause of terrorism is poverty, land or money. It is untrue that terrorists recruit children. Children are taught hatred in the mosques and subsequently volunteer for martyrdom. The Islamist ideology taught to Whalid is rooted in a deep-seated hatred of Jews and Christians, and seeks Islamic rule and Sharia law. When Muslim leaders speak publicly to say otherwise, we should be wary.

After serving time in prison, Whalid emigrated to the United States. Through the freedoms this country affords, he educated himself, read the Bible, and realized he had previously acted on the side of evil.

Whalid saw the Light and converted to Christianity. He warned that America must not forget her Christian roots, for the difference in the two ideologies is one of values. One promotes democracy, freedom and human rights. The other promotes Islamic dictatorship, Sharia law and oppression. If we want to retain our freedom, we must retain our values.

Whalid is now an advocate of Western democracy, warning the public of the dangers of Islamist terrorism.

Our nation faces a grave threat. All speakers agreed we better wake up from our slumber before it’s too late. We must heed the warnings of the Jihadists who say they want death to America, and commit acts to support their words. If, despite the facts, we believe the lie that Islam is always a religion of peace and tolerance, we put our democracy at risk.

Believing lies will hold us in bondage and perhaps kill us. It will destroy our freedoms and our way of life. The Truth is painful. Yet, we must face it — for only the Truth shall make us free.


Lawyer and consultant

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